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FiiO EX1 Nanotech Titanium Diaphragm In-Ear Monitors

Rating:
4.15789/5,
  1. nmatheis
    FiiO EX1: FiiO Takes On The TITAN
    Written by nmatheis
    Published Oct 23, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great sound. Open, airy soundstage. Comfortable. Attractive.
    Cons - Lacks isolation. Mids could be more prominent. Springy cable.

    Titan-19.jpg

     

    INTRODUCTION

    I'm going to let you in on a secret: I never tried the original Dunu TITAN 1. Why? The many excellent reviews were balanced out by reports of weak bass and aggressive highs. These discrepancies made me leery of trying them, but when I saw Fiio sponsor a tour for the EX1 (basically a FiiO-branded TITAN 1), I signed up without hesitation. Here was my chance to hear one of the most hyped IEM of 2015. If I didn't like it, no worries. If I did like it, maybe I'd end up buying it. Either way, I'd find out if the hype was deserved. 
     
    I'm sure most of you know about FiiO, one of the most popular portable amp and DAP manufacturers on Head-Fi. Their X3 DAP was my first DAP. I also own the X5 DAP and E12A and E12 DIY portable amps. I've reviewed their X3ii (LINK) and X5ii (LINK) DAPs and am excited to be one of the first-round reviewers of the X7 on Head-Fi. I provide you with this information so you understand that I do have a history with FiiO. I also recently received pre-release versions of the Dunu TITAN 3 (review) and TITAN 5 (review) for review and tour, so I'm confident I have a good understanding of where the EX1 falls amongst in the TITAN lineup.
     
    Here's some information about FiiO from their About Us page:
     
    About FiiO Electronics Technology Co., Ltd.

    FiiO designs, produces and sells high-quality products at favorable prices to those who love music and style.

    FiiO's aspiration: to raise the reputation of "Made in China".

    Brand spirit: innovation, quality, service

    Brand positioning: HiFi with style

    FiiO was established in 2007 and has experience in researching and developing countless portable music products of different types,
    and sell FiiO-branded products through sales agents worldwide.

    FiiO is focused on product quality, adheres strictly to ISO9001 standards in quality management and works hard to attain the lowest
    repair-related product returns rate.

    Several products from FiiO have created record sales in their respective product segments; our portable headphone amplifiers, DACs and
    high-resolution digital audio players have all received praise from the majority of users.

    FiiO places great importance on users’ needs and ceaselessly pursues perfection in product design and manufacturing, to supply users
    with the best audio products at the best prices. 





     
    FiiO's Website: LINK.
     
    Dedicated Dunu TITAN thread: LINK.
     
     

    DISCLAIMER

    There is no financial incentive from FiiO for writing this review.  I am in no way affiliated with FiiO, and this is my honest opinion of the EX1.  I would like to thank FiiO for giving me a chance to test drive and tour the EX1, and I hope my feedback proves useful for my fellow Head-Fi members as well as for FiiO.
     
     

    ABOUT ME

    I'm a 43 year old father who loves music.  While I listen mostly to electronic and metal these days, I do listen to a wide variety of music - from electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush).  
     
    I'm primarily a portable audio enthusiast. My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso.
     
    Being a portable audio enthusiast, I typically listen with IEMs but am enjoying listening with full-size headphones more and more and tend to like u-shaped sound signatures, although I break out v-shaped IEM & HP from time to time for fun.
     
    As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which can affect hearing in my right ear.  I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front.



     
     
    SPECS
    1. Driver: 13mm titanium coated dynamic
    2. Frequency Response: 20Hz-30KHz
    3. SPL: 102dB
    4. Impedance: 16Ω
    5. Plug: 3.5mm Gold-plated L-plug
    6. Cord Length: 1.2m
    7. Weight: 18g
     
     

    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES



    Packaging
    Titan-15.jpg
     
     
    Carry case
    Titan-5.jpg
     
     
    Tips

     
    Not pictured: Shirt clip + 1/8" plug adapter.
     
    To sum up: So you get the EX1, Heir and Hybrid style tips in S, M, and L, the hard carry case, a shirt clip, and an 1/8" plug adapter. Not bad. I'll say right now that I'm not a fan of Heir style tips. They always seem to slip out of my ear canals. The Hybrid style tips are grippier and stay put in my ears much better, so that's what I gravitated towards. The hard case works very well with the EX1. Since I have the TITAN 3 and TITAN 5 in for testing, I'll mention that it doesn't work so well for those. The larger housing size Dunu used to accommodate the detachable cable connectors makes them just a bit too large to easily snap the case shut.
     
     
     

    BUILD & ERGONOMICS

    The EX1 are a half in-ear design, which allows them to include a large driver without compromising on comfort. I'll walk through the various design and ergonomic features of the EX1 in pictorial format below.
     
    Here's a look at the EX1's inner face. I love the brushed metal finish and wish that was also used on the outer face. Note the numerous vent holes that give the EX1 its unique open, airy sound.
    Titan-16.jpg
     
    Here's a look at the EX1's outer face. Here you can see the candy colored strips sandwiched between the inner and outer housings that provide a quick visual distinction between L/R earpieces. While this is much easier than looking for the low contrast L/R markings on the inner face, I would've preferred more subtle dark red and black strips.
    Titan-19.jpg
     
    Since I've got the TITAN 3 and TITAN 5 in-house, I thought I'd show you just how much bulk the detachable cables add. You can also see a little of Dunu's cable, which I preferred to the FiiO cable. Dunu's implementation is quite supple, while FiiO's is springy. This makes cable management a bit more of a chore with FiiO's version.
    Titan-22.jpg
     
    Y-splitter and chin slider
    Titan-17.jpg
    Titan-18.jpg
     
    3.5mm L-plug
    Titan-20.jpg
     
    The EX1 feature Dunu's awesome cable management feature. Wish all my IEM had this!

     
    Here's what EX1 look like worn down vs. over ear. While they're designed to be worn down, they can be worn over ear fairly easily - although this will result in channels swapping (left earpiece in right ear and vice versa).
    FullSizeRender-10.jpg FullSizeRender-12.jpg
     
     
     
    To sum up: The FiiO EX1 are an attractive, ergonomic, well-built IEM. I can't find many flaws beyond the aesthetic choice to use candy colors to differentiate L/R earpieces (which I'm sure some will love) and the springy cable.
     
     
    SOUND
    I'm going to keep this section simple. There are already a lot of reviews for the EX1, so if mine doesn't fit your needs there are plenty more to explore. You can always hit up the TITAN thread, where they've been discussed across 150+ pages already.
     
    I mainly listen to experimental electronic and metal and use those genres to evaluate HP & IEM. During my time with the EX1, I mainly used them with the FiiO X5, Shanling M3 (LINK to review), and the newly released Shanling M2 I have in for testing and US tour (LINK to the M2 thread I started). 
     
    The original TITAN and the FiiO's EX1 have already received a lot of attention, and I know a lot of people are asking themselves how the new TITANs differentiate themselves from the TITAN 1 / EX1. So I decided to do a bit of comparative listening across the three and will go over how they differentiate themselves below.
     

    FiiO EX1
    It's the hardest to drive, has the worst isolation, but has the most unique sound. Regarding driving power, a comfortable listening level in a quiet rom was 35 on Low Gain out of my X5. That actually indicates to me that the X5 isn't actually hard to drive - just harder to drive than the other TITANs. To get an initial sense of isolation, I snapped my fingers by my ears while music was playing. The snaps were dulled but still clearly audible. Later I listened to them while walking in my neighborhood, and while they were definitely less isolating than my other IEM it wasn't night and day. It certainly wasn't egregious, and I clearly had a better sense of environmental awareness. Soundstage was open and airy for an IEM at any price point. I was quite impressed with the holographic sound. It actually reminded me a bit of my HiFiMan HE400 in this respect.  Not the same mind you but reminiscent nonetheless. The basic sound signature is a u-curve. Bass is relatively flat with just enough mid-bass emphasis to add a bit of punch - definitely neither weak nor boomy. Mids are neutral and clear but are a bit lacking in sweetness and emotion. The upper end is a bit edgy but didn't verge into sibilant territory for me and is something I could easily be happy with. 
     
    Quite honestly, the EX1 exceeded my expectations, pushing a lot of the right buttons for me. Soundstage was fantastic, providing a very holographic listening experience. Bass was deep enough for a satisfying listen with electronic music but also fast enough to keep up with the rapid fire kick drums oft employed in metal music. Mids were definitely the weak point but were present enough not to call EX1 recessed. They're the aspect of EX1 most ripe for improvement. While the upper end was a touch harsh, it wasn't as aggressive as I was expecting and provided a good level of detail without veering into fatiguing territory. I see what the hype was about now. EX1 sounds nice!
     
    Since I've got them, how do the new TITANs compare?

    Dunu TITAN 3
    T3 are the easiest to drive of the bunch. To get a comparable volume, I was able to turn my X5's volume down to 28 while listening in a quiet room. Isolation is on par with typical dynamic IEM. I could barely hear my fingers snapping when music was playing and environmental noise in my neighborhood was mostly blocked. Soundstage is much more conventional. Gone is the original's very open, airy almost holographic sound. T3's sound signature is just on the warm side of neutral. Bass sounds similar to the EX1's but a bit flatter. Nonetheless, it was still satisfying with a wide range of music. The key difference is the mids, which are more present vs. EX1. Whereas the EX1's mids were neutral, the T3 brings them forward - especially the upper mids. This makes female vocals pop. Those of you who know me know I'm a big Bjork fan and routinely use her Biophila album when testing new IEM. T3 were hands-down the best of the TITANs for bringing out the best in Bjork's voice. EX1 and T5 were still satisfying but failed to convey the same emotional presence the T3 did. Similar to the low end, the T3's upper end sounds similar to EX1 but takes the edge off. If you thought the originals were a bit on the harsh side, T3 should solve that issue for you.
     
     
    Dunu TITAN 5
    T5 are just a bit harder to drive than T3. To get a comparable volume, I had to turn my X5's volume up to 30 while listening in a quiet room. Isolation is identical to T3, so on par with typical dynamic IEM. Soundstage is still quite conventional, but I found the soundstage larger vs. T3. And just like the T3, you'll be missing the original's open, airy sound. T5's sound signature is a mild v-shape. Bass is the star of the show. It's more prominent than the other TITANs but is well-done - not loose or boomy. The mids are neutral and remind me of the EX1, whereas the upper end is quite reminiscent of the T3. Revisiting Bjork for a minute - where T3 really made Bjork's voice pop, the T5 made the bass drops more satisfying. But when switching to The Eagles, I found the T5's bass made the bass guitar more prominent than I was used to. EX1 and T3 feel truer to the music in this respect.
     
    TLDR
    1. T3 takes the general EX1 sound, adds in more prominent mids (especially upper mids), more refined upper end, and better isolation. It also brings a much more conventional soundstage.
    2. T5 takes the general EX1 sound but adds in more prominent bass, more refined upper end, and better isolation. It also brings a much more conventional soundstage but not as much of a compromise as T3.
     
     
    SUMMARY
    So what do I think of the FiiO EX1? Well, first of all I'm going to admit that I'm saddened that it took me this long to hear them. The EX1 are a superb IEM. Sure they've got a few flaws. Their mids could be more prominent, the upper end could be more refined, isolation isn't great, and they've got a springy cable. However, their open, airy soundstage, well-balanced sound signature, and high level of comfort more than make up for these minor flaws. In my opinion, they hold up very well against the upcoming TITAN 3 and TITAN 5. I can easily see people choosing any of the different models based on their sound signature, soundstage, and isolation preferences. And I'll be blunt, I don't think the new TITANs benefit much from detachable cables. I much prefer the fixed cable design of the EX1, which allows the earpieces to remain small and light. 
     
    I hope you found this useful and would like to give a hearty thanks to FiiO for giving the Head-Fi community the chance to review the EX1. I really enjoyed my time with them and put them on my "must buy" list. Be on the lookout for more reviews as the tour progresses. @Podster's next up on my leg of the tour
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Paulus XII
      Great review as always ; )
      Paulus XII, Oct 24, 2015
    3. Astral Abyss
      Well written, very descriptive review.  I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on the RHA S500 as they're on my radar as well.
      Astral Abyss, Oct 28, 2015
    4. BloodyPenguin
      Fantastic Review.  Really Impressive.  Well done nmatheis.
      BloodyPenguin, Jan 26, 2016
  2. ezekiel77
    Titan Reloaded, the EXcellent 1
    Written by ezekiel77
    Published Oct 21, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Best soundstage in its class, astounding clarity and detail, good bass quality, fun and exciting tuning, solid build quality, great looks and comfort!
    Cons - Mids slightly recessed, borderline sibilant in some tracks, bass quantity a bit lacking, springy cable, poor isolation, sound leak, not for vocalheads
    Introduction
    First off, many thanks and salutations to Joe Bloggs of FiiO for the opportunity to participate in the EX1 review tour. I missed the boat on the Dunu Titan 1 the first time around, because looking like they did I thought they were entry-level IEMs for earbud lovers. Since then they’ve become one of the best-reviewed IEMs in Head-Fi. So naturally, when FiiO released the EX1 (or Titan 1 reloaded), I jumped at the chance to review it. I had a loaner unit for a week before passing it on to the next reviewer. How different are they from the Dunus? Featuring a better cable and a lower price, that’s quite a pitch. The drivers and housings however, are identical.
     

    EX1.jpg

     
    Equipment Used:
    Astell & Kern AK100ii
    FiiO EX1
    HiFiMan RE-400
    VSonic GR07 Classic
    Audio Technica ATH-CKR9

     

    Albums Listened:
    Adele – 21
    Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward
    Diana Krall – When I Look Into Your Eyes
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
    Metallica – The Black Album
    Michael Jackson – Thriller
    Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles
    The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over

    EX4.jpg

     
    Packaging and Accessories

    It’s a functional packaging, that much I can say. Not blingy nor particularly attractive. Open the box up, you get a plastic carrying case, 9 pairs of eartips (from smaller to larger bore at 3 different sizes) and a tie clip. I used the large-sized medium-bore eartips with the red stems for most of the review. Gave me the best comfort and striking looks. Sound differences between the eartips are subtle.

     

    Design, Build Quality and Cables

    They look great! Like tiny shiny UFOs, with venting! The full metal housing, Y-split and connectors have a solid, reaffirming quality to it, at least when compared to IEMs of similar price. Definitely gives more confidence than my GR07 Classic or RE-400. The housings are made of anodized duralumin and stainless steel. Sounds great doesn’t it? The cables are made from OFC copper, intertwined with Kevlar strands. Again, solid comes to mind. They feel rather springy and rubbery though, and reminds me a LOT of the Ostry KC06 cables. Not particularly fond of it but it’s quality inside.

     

    Fit, Isolation and Comfort

    Here’s the thing. I’m very used to deep insertion IEMs, and have sort of taken isolation for granted. The EX1 is neither. They are very shallow-fit, and isolate poorly. In a noisy environment like taking the train, you’ll hear many things other than your fine music collection. On the other hand you can probably wear them while driv… I didn’t say that. The noise leak might be a bother too. Because of the numerous vents in each housing, expect people to comment on your music taste. I got more than that. The first night of listening, I didn’t know how bad the sound leak was until my wife gave me a look. She was trying to drift asleep but kept hearing Enter Sandman instead. Comfort however, is top notch. I wear them straight down, and while microphonics might pose a problem, it is easily solved with the tie clip. After a while you won’t even remember wearing earphones. They’re light as a feather.


    EX5.jpg

     
    Overall Signature
    To me the EX1 is tuned for fun and excitement. It's a slight V-shaped sig whereby the bass and treble are lifted above the mids. But if you ask me, it sounds more swoosh-shaped as the treble boost is more prominent. Definitely more bright than warm. Clarity and soundstage are phenomenal for the price. Overall balance and cohesion is good. The sweep from bass to treble sounds effortless with good air in between. Only in the case of cymbal-heavy tracks, however, does the treble seem isolated from the rest, and the balance is thrown off. Like, what are you doing over there, pal? This happens mostly in rock and metal tracks.

    Bass
    Well executed. This is bass done tastefully right. I hear a sub-bass boost for that all-important rumble and a very slight lift in the mid-bass. Crucially, there is no bass bloat and the mids are left well alone. It's clean, reasonably fast, and manages a good balance between quality and quantity. Sacrificing just a bit of fun for detail, it isn't as boomy or impactful for bassheads, but enough to get your foot tapping, head bopping. The bass carries the tune very well, like the friendly guy who hands out drinks at a party, making sure everybody has a good time. The most inoffensive part of the sound spectrum, if lacking excitement ever so slightly.

    Mids
    The mids are slightly recessed. Not very obvious, but in rock tracks the vocals and acoustics get less attention than the cymbals (and they WANT you to hear the cymbals dude!) and bass line. Note articulation is thin, not too engaging but with good detail. I hear a slight boost in the upper mids that increases clarity but can make vocals sound unnatural. This is more obvious in female vocals, and in the upper registers they can sound a bit tinny. Detail is certainly there, but lacks the smooth, syrupy and intimate vocals that I prefer, and the best mid-centered IEMs have. The mids here are content to come in, do their job, and leave the party on time. No after party, no fanfare. Just doin' m'job, sir.

    Treble
    I'm still on the fence about this one. The treble is upfront, great for trebleheads, but it has a sort of Jekyll/Hyde character about it. On one hand, clarity is extremely good. You hear nearly every nuance and detail of the music. They extend up and far seemingly without effort. Notes are light, thin, fighting fit, and very crispy! They blend well with the rest of the spectrum when I listen to jazz, orchestral, and generally downtempo tracks. Mr Hyde, however, comes a-knocking when I put on some heavy rock. The EX1 pushes the cymbals and hi-hats TO YOUR FACE. They want and CRAVE your attention, and become borderline sibilant and harsh. Try a cymbal-heavy track like Guerrilla Radio and the treble attack becomes all too apparent, separating itself from the rest of the sound spectrum. Coupled with the slightly recessed mids, rock and metal can be tiring, trying listens. Keep the treble in check however, and you're given an amazing time.

    Soundstage and Imaging
    Now this, is more like it! Are you sure these are budget phones? The soundstage is huge! It extends wide (I mean wiiiiiiiiiiide) and deep (deeeeeeeeep) giving each instrument enough space to shine on its own, yet maintaining overall cohesion and never sounding disjointed from each other. Imaging is top-notch as well! If you close your eyes and do that Daredevil thing you can zoom to and focus on a particular instrument/voice, like wandering around a stage. Height, however, I'm not a good judge of. I would think that it's pretty good, there's a 3D-like effect from the imaging, and you can't have that without good height. Just a few inches up and down, don’t expect to hear a piano tinkling from two floors up. So once again, probably the best part of the EX1, is the soundstage and imaging. I have not heard anything come even close to this at sub-$100. Not even sniffing distance.
     

    EX2.jpg
     
    Comparisons:

    HiFiMan RE-400
    The RE-400 has acquired legend status among audiophiles looking for a flat, neutral, reference tuning. Mention any of those words and the RE-400 should get a mention. For me it occupies a place in upper head-fi echelon for one reason, and one reason only. Its magical mids. Smooth, velvety and rich, in effect sounding astoundingly lifelike and intimate. Fire any acoustics, piano and vocals its way, the RE-400 can handle them no problem. The EX1, with its thinner notes, and good clarity, does its job quietly but doesn’t compare at all to the mighty mids of the RE-400. It does however, emerge victorious in all other aspects. The EX1 has tight, clean, impactful bass that has good quality and detail, but might be less quantity than preferred for a basshead. The RE-400 has equally good detail deep into sub-bass level, but seriously lacks impact, and sounds anaemic. For treble, the EX1 is more prominent, exciting and sparkly, with borderline sibilance on cymbal-heavy metal/hard rock tracks. The RE-400 treble is extended but smoothed out, perhaps too smoothed out. Soundstage is a wipeout. The RE-400’s intimate soundstage does not hold a candle to the EX1’s magnificence in width, depth, height and imaging. Overall, the EX1 is the better all-rounder, while the RE-400 shines in mid-centric tracks.

    VSonic GR07 Classic
    The GR07 is my go-to reference budget-fi superstar for the better part of 2 years, for its immaculate balance and neutral-ish tuning. Recently there are a few sub-$100 contenders that take the fight directly to the GR07, including the Ostry KC06 and Havi B3 Pro 1. I have to say the EX1 stands proudly among them. It’s a titanic battle between the two, with no clear winner. Overall the EX1 sounds brighter with more detail. GR07 takes the bass, which I thought had more impact and presence than the cleaner EX1, thanks to its mid-bass lift. GR07’s bass tuning, quality and quantity-wise remains one of my favourite regardless of price or drivers. I prefer the GR07 mids as well. It’s slightly warm, more smoothed out and natural compared to the clear, but slightly recessed EX1 mids. Vocals perform better on the GR07 too. That being said, the EX1 comes roaring back in the treble region, boasting better extension, more clarity and details and surprisingly, less sibilance than the GR07. Better air too? Yup. Which leads to soundstage… not much of a fight. The EX1 completely obliterates the GR07 in width, depth, height, imaging and separation. In the beginning of my head-fi journey I didn’t emphasise soundstage much. But now I hear the stark difference between a flat canvas of sound, and a large reverberating hall of enveloping, musical goodness. The EX1’s soundstage is exemplary for its class. Again, no clear winner. Both are extremely good all-rounders and equally fun. Entirely down to preference.

    Audio Technica ATH-CKR9
    Moving up a bracket, the $150 CKR9 uses dual-dynamic 13mm drivers. They are well-regarded for their realistic, natural, warmer-side-of-neutral tuning. Interestingly the lean and mean EX1 bass makes the CKR9 sound bloated and slow in comparison. Bass detail are equal, but note decay is definitely longer in the CKR9, with a noticeable subbass and midbass boost. This makes for a fun, rumbly, attention-grabbing bass, like how the treble does the headlining for the EX1. Great for some tracks, too heavy-handed in others. An acquired taste, I’m calling this a draw. The CKR9 mids, however, do a great job of being awesomely detailed with a good serving of smoothness and warmth. Notes are thicker, heavier, and more intimate than the EX1. Vocals are slightly forward but sublime, perfect for midheads like me. CKR9 takes this one. The CKR9 treble stretches very high, with a good amount of detail, sparkle and excitement, and the edges smoothed out slightly, never sibilant nor harsh. However it takes a backseat to the rest of the spectrum… while much better than its brother the CKR10, the treble will not be the first thing you notice. Suffice to say, the EX1 shares the same properties with the CKR9, but pushed forward, with more detail and excitement heard but at the risk of sometimes sounding harsh. But overall I prefer the more thrilling (albeit unpredictable) treble of the EX1. Soundstage is where they fight neck and neck. The EX1 has a slightly wider soundstage, but the CKR9 has more depth. Imaging, however, is a landslide victory for the EX1 helped by its light and airy notes giving a better sense of space in between instruments. The slower CKR9 suffers here, but the thicker note articulation pulls you in with its mesmerising, natural tone. It’s the more musical of the two, but the notes flow like rich chocolate syrup as opposed to EX1’s clear, sparkling water. Overall? Both phones have great, balanced sound with different flavours, on opposite sides of neutral. Just goes to show the EX1 can punch above its weight.

    So, just for kicks:
    Bass: GR07 > CKR9 = EX1 > RE-400
    Mids: RE-400 = CKR9 > GR07 > EX1
    Treble: EX1 > CKR9 > GR07 > RE-400
    Soundstage: EX1 > CKR9 > GR07 > RE-400
    Overall: CKR9 > EX1 > GR07 > RE-400

    EX3.jpg

    Conclusion
    The week has come and gone, and I’ve been a very happy reviewer of a solid, stellar pair of earphones I might end up buying in the near future. If fun, clarity, detail, and excitement tick your boxes, you’re in for an excellent time. Not to mention the class-leading soundstage which is like no other I’ve heard in this price range. Value for money is no question at all. Just be wary of the below average isolation and sound leak. Other than that there really is not much fault with the EX1, with a great many things to like about it. Job well done, FiiO. Job well done indeed.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. RomanRise
      Nice review.
      So, they are , lets say, low/middle class earphones. Are they worthy to be used with X7? 
      RomanRise, Oct 22, 2015
    3. ezekiel77
      Thanks guys.
      I'm sure they are worthy for the X7. They are among the best in budget-fi earphones. Question is are the X7 ready for them? Lol.
      ezekiel77, Oct 23, 2015
    4. saikat1729
      Very good review indeed. Exactly what I need to replace my 598SE while travelling.
      saikat1729, Jun 1, 2016
  3. yfnt
    EX1 don’t have uncomfortable sound !!
    Written by yfnt
    Published Oct 12, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Neutral balance sound
    Cons - Isolation, need amplifier
    About Me: Hi all, I like FiiO products, and my main system X5 DAP, E12 DIY AMP. I’m glad to review FiiO new product the EX1 In-ear Monitors.
      
    Fit: FiiO EX1 weight is light. I felt really comfortable EX1 fitting. 
     
    Sound
    I used the EX1 with my favorite music in train at commuting time. My first impression, I wonder if the EX1 would be really 16 ohm. So, the EX1 is low volume. I thought  the EX1 sound quality depends on headphone amplifier, my amp is E12 DIY has JRC Muse8920D and TI BUF634.  Sure, the EX1 sound quality is up by headphone amplifier
     
    The EX1 don’t have detail sound, but it has well neutral sound about Bass, Mid and High. And above all, the EX1 don’t have uncomfortable sound !!
     
    My favorite music:
    TRANCE, EDM
    Japanese VOCALOID music
    Japanese Game music
    Japanese Anime music
     
    Conclusion:
    The Ex1 is the best choice under $90. If you enjoy your favorite music for a long time, the EX1 will be really comfortable.  
     
    Final Words:
    I don't have much appropriate English. but I could join FiiO EX1 world tour--open for application now! (1st round member list announced).
    I very thank Joe Bloggs and FiiO which gave a chance of a review.
     
    Thank you !!
      Hawaiibadboy likes this.
    1. Hawaiibadboy
      Bro, your English is great. Nice review!!
      Hawaiibadboy, Oct 13, 2015
  4. Army-Firedawg
    Absolute front runner in the sub $100 category
    Written by Army-Firedawg
    Published Oct 11, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Excellently made, super comfortable, very fun to listen to
    Cons - Slightly recessed mids, cord tangles easily
                                                                        20151010_180247_HDR.jpg
     
     
     
     
        I must first start this by giving a huge thanks to @Joe Bloggs and @FiiO for allowing me to take part in their very FIRST world tour. It’s a huge honor and privilege for me and one I’m tremendously thankful for.
        But what drew me into applying for the EX1 is that I’ve been extremely familiar with Fiio for a few years now in their portable amp. category and have always been impressed per the price. I’ve also heard wonderful things about their DAPs for their price,  so when I heard them making their first IEM I had to give it a shot, so how does it stack up?
     
        20151010_180702_HDR.jpg     20151010_175652_HDR.jpg
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    The Opening Experience
     
        The initial handshake of the EX1 was alright. Nothing to write home about but nothing to be offput by either. The box is very basic as is the presentation of the product, however a great high note that Fiio did was supply an impressive assortment of ear tips so one shouldn’t have any difficulty finding their perfect size (I however used my personal Comply memory foam for personal & sanitary reasons, these are very early in the rotation and are going to other people). Also I was quite impressed in the quality of the hard carrying case provided, doesn’t feel cheap at all.
     
                                                                                               20151010_174553_HDR.jpg
     
     
    Construction
     
        The build quality, the longevity of a product's life. Being made of an aluminum construction it impressed me, to be sub $100 it floored me. These are very lightweight and despite being aluminum I found no rough or sharp edges but rather found them to be rather smooth. The horn is angled which does wonders for the comfort (to be discussed in the next section) and is sized so most any 3rd party tips will fit.
    The cable reminds me a lot of the Sennheiser IE800’s, being very thin yet confidently strong as well as attractive. A downside however is that this cable loves to tangle up on itself regardless of how well I try and package it. Another downside to the cable. and it’s one I find in every IEM. is the feedback is pretty decent. When I turn my head and the cable brushes something I hear a pretty good bit of noise, but very acceptable in retrospect.
     
     
     
    Comfort
     
        An aspect I feel is slowly going by the wayside to fashion, colors, features and other nonsense. I mostly care about how long can I comfortably enjoy the music being presented to me more than rather or not they look good. So how are the EX1’s? Wonderful. They stay in the ear firmly without any fear of falling out. They’re so light I forget they’re in my ears and are so smooth I barely feel them either. When paired with Comply memory foam the horn fits perfectly in my ear so my longer listening durations of roughly 2 hours went by without any fatigue whatsoever.


                                                                                                20151010_175926_HDR.jpg
     
     
    Sound
     
        The most important part of an audio component (for most people). How does Fiio’s first IEM sound; especially in the sub $100 range which I firmly believe is the most competitive? Well, pretty darned good I do have to say.
        My first and most prominent view of these is that they’re definitely a “fun” IEM to listen to. I can quickly tell they’re not that sonically accurate (regardless of its price point) as it holds a very distinct “V-shape” sound curve with an emphasis on the bass. I don’t find this uncommon for the “fun” sound is what sells in the mainstream market. But what exactly makes me feel this way about the EX1?
     
    Treble
     
        The highs on the EX1 sound nice and clean overall. I feel they portray the artist's voice (namely female) respectably accurate, but, and I’ll use the song “Diva Dance” from the fifth element as an example, when the treble greatly extends to the upper range these peak quite early and don’t recreate the entire experience. This only applies to the upper treble range.
     
    Mids
     
        My personal favorite aspect of audio is the mid range, or vocals for another way to look at it.  Up front I’ll admit I’m not personally a big fan of the “V-shape” sound curve for most often the company will greatly recess the mid range in order to better increase the treble and bass. This to me leaves the audio piece sounding hollow and lacking of a “soul” as I put it.
        Though the EX1 does have some slight recession in the mid range, it wasn’t enough for me to push them away. All in all the the only complaint I had with the mids is the somewhat dullness to them.
     
    Bass
     
        Very quickly found to be the focal point of the EX1, which again ties into the mainstream craze. The bottom end is very punchy and hits hard, even to the sub bass levels. For the price, I can’t really complain at all by the bass response.
    The only downside I will say and it is from an “audiophile's” perspective, but since the bass is working harder to reach the lower notes and forcing them to hit them harder, I find it to be somewhat bloated and artificial.  Nothing huge or major but a note that exists nonetheless.



                                                                                               20151010_175116_HDR.jpg
     

     
    Conclusion
     
        To sum up the Fiio EX1’s, they’re a very fun sounding headphone that I believe is a great way of introducing the mainstream audience into a new product line. The build quality, comfort and even the sound out classes most any other product I’m familiar with in this price range and should absolutely be a frontrunner to someone looking for either a great gift for a friend who’s interested in the field or even for yourself as a casual pair to tap your feet to. Fiio’s price/quality ratio has always made them a front runner in my mind throughout any of their products and their newest offering maintains that consistency.
     
    Till next time my friends, also check out my unboxing video here, and my full video review here
     
    1. hakushondaimao
      Seems we have similar impressions of how these sound. Nice job.
      hakushondaimao, Oct 12, 2015
    2. Army-Firedawg
      Haha I thought the same when I read yours but thank ya friend.
      Army-Firedawg, Oct 13, 2015
  5. hakushondaimao
    A Titan in FiiO Clothing
    Written by hakushondaimao
    Published Oct 11, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Impactful bass (when worn over ear); crisp, clear highs; overall warmth; good soundstage; non-fatiguing; bang for the buck.
    Cons - Slightly recessed mids, springy cable; not designed to be worn cable-up.
    The Fiio EX1 is the first Fiio-branded IEM. If it looks familiar, that’s because it is basically a re-tuned Dunu Titan 1 (a collaboration made obvious by the appearances of both the Fiio and Dunu names on various parts of the product).
     
    The Titan has an excellent reputation within Head-Fi circles for spacious soundstage, capable bass, sparkling treble and revealing detail. Although curious for some time to try the Titan, I was held back from purchasing a set of my own by reports from some reviewers of poor isolation, edgy treble (tip dependent), shallow fit and cable-down design (I like over-ear).
     
    0.ProductIMage.jpg
     
    With the release of the EX1, Fiio organized a world tour, and I saw my no-risk chance to try out the latest iteration of the Titan. I put my name forward, and luckily was selected to lead off one of the North American legs, which led to me having ten days with the EX1 in exchange for my unbiased impressions. There was no financial incentive for me in this review, and at the end of ten days the IEM was packed up and sent on to the next tour participant.
     
    I’m 50 verging on 51, and I have deficiencies in my hearing (in a recent, entirely non-scientific test I discovered I can’t really hear anything over about 15 kHz, with roll-of starting around 12 or 13 kHz, which I guess is pretty good for someone of my vintage but not perfect). My hearing sensitivity is pretty low, and so I listen at higher volume than the average bear. I listen to a variety of genres, in particular, Classical (mostly chamber), Jazz (‘50s to 70’s), ‘70s Rock, ‘80s New Wave/Electro, and Trip Hop/Acid Jazz (90’s into 00’s). I like good sub-bass presence, tight mid bass, relatively linear, detailed mids and highs, lush and rich with a good level of detail. I’m not a bass-head, and am not a fan of anything boomy. I’ve been a music lover for decades, but am relatively new to Head-Fi (bought my first over-ear headphones in November 2014). I am not an expert in electronics or musical terminology. I spend a lot of time on Head-Fi, know what has been useful to me in reviews, and try to give useful insights to help others make decisions about items they are thinking about trying or buying.
     
    About the EX1
     
    This is a summary of product information I found on Amazon: Each EX1 earpiece contains a nanotech titanium diaphragm dynamic driver within a CNC milled duralumin (back) and stainless steel (front) housing, with short nozzle for comfort. At the end of each nozzle are 7 tuning ports in a beehive pattern, sized and positioned for the desired sound properties. Housings are connected to grey kevlar-strengthened high-purity multi-strand (42 strands) OFC cables.
     
    1.Package.jpg     2.Package.jpg
     
    To add some of my own observations on receiving the EX1: The cable terminates at an L-shaped gold-plated plug. Strain reliefs are substantial, with black, soft rubberized material at the plug, an aluminium sheath at the y-split, and grey rubberized material at each housing. The housings are well vented (11 vents on the front, ear side and one on the back) so driver flex is not an issue. Cable is a bit springy, but not to the point of being a big issue. There is an aluminium cable cinch, which slides easily and locks securely; it inserts slightly into the recessed end of the y-split sheath when not in use.
     
    3.PackageandSpec.jpg
     
    Vital specifications:
    1. Driver: 13mm dynamic driver (titanium)
    2. Frequency Range: 20Hz – 30kHz
    3. Impedance: 16 ohm
    4. Sensitivity: 102 dB/mW
     
    At the time of writing, the EX1 cost US$89.99 on Amazon.com.
     
    EX1 Impressions
     
    On receiving the EX1, I tried them out the way they’re designed, worn cable down and with stock tips. To tell the truth, I wasn’t happy with this set-up. I like a deep, secure insertion and the ear tips didn’t insert very far. The result was that I felt the earpieces were going to fall out or I would lose my seal if I moved my head too vigorously or quickly. The main culprits here were:
    • short nozzles and short bore stock ear-tips, and
    • the fact that I have rather prominent traguses (tragi?), both front and back, which caught on the strain relief and kept tip insertion shallow.
     
    Feeling like maybe these weren’t for me , I decided to play around with different tips to see if I could get a more secure fit. I have Comply tips lying around, but I’m not the biggest fan of their sound, so I started with the Sony Isolation (foam-filled) Hybrids. I had success with these with the RHA MA750, which also fit insecurely with stock tips. With the EX1, if I really jammed them in as deep as they’d go, I got an okay fit, but it didn’t last long as the strain relief on the housing worked them out again. Same with other tips I tried.
     
    So, I got a bit more drastic. The design looked like it would work cable up if I reversed ears (left earpiece in right ear and vice-versa… I know, sacrilege) so I gave it a try. The result? An excellent fit! I got much deeper insertion, everything felt secure, the earpieces didn’t work their way out, and I got a great seal. From there it was a matter of tip-rolling to find an ideal combination of comfort and sound quality.
     
    4.TipRolling.jpg     5.TipRolling.jpg
     
    I ended up settling on the Spinfits, with my top-three choices being: 1) Spinfit (best insertion, great bass and detailed highs, good soundstage, male vocals just a touch subdued at times), 2) Stock Silicon (bass fuller than Spinfits, highs and soundstage almost at Spinfit levels, but shallower insertion), and 3) Sony Isolation Hybrid (similar sound to Spinfit but warmer and smoother, insertion similar to stock silicon).
     
    iTunes on MacBook Air via Fiio Q1
    Dire Straits – You And Your Friend (from On Every Street, ALAC)
    1. Sony Isolation Hybrid (short narrow bore): Bass goes deep, has real substance in both sub- and mid-bass. Guitar beautifully detailed, sparkling and bright at high end but not harsh. Snare and high hat also nicely detailed. Knopfler’s vocal rich and textured, but veiled when competing against other instruments. Overall sound is warm, no harshness.
    2. Spiral Dot (short wide bore): Bass more forward, longer sustain, more echo-y. Highs (upper mids and treble) rounder, less detailed but still satisfying. Vocal more subdued. Overall warmer and less detailed, but pleasant, and suitable for long listening sessions or for music as background.
    3. Spinfit (long medium bore): Great insertion (tip extends about 2mm more from housing than other tips). Similar sound signature to Sony hybrid with powerful bass, detailed highs and slightly veiled mids (male vocal), though more open, greater sense of space.
    4. Stock Silicon (short wide bore): Look similar to Spiral Dots, but bore slightly wider and shorter (so sit shallower and less securely). Less bass forward than Spiral Dots and slightly fuller than Sony and Spinfit. Vocal and guitar more textured than Spiral Dots. Excellent detail and airiness to highs, with guitar quality and soundstage approaching Spinfits.
    5. Generic Silicon (short medium bore): Duller sound overall. Bass less full, more mid-bassy. Guitar rounder, less detailed. Vocal lusher but less textured. No real sense of spaciousness, more inside the head.
     
     
    Sound Impressions
     
    General sound signature: As mentioned at the beginning of the review, my sound expectations for the EX1 were a mix of good and bad: spacious soundstage, capable bass, sparkling treble and revealing detail, along with poor isolation and sometimes edgy treble. Once I dealt with my fit and insertion issues through tip choice and wearing the earpieces reversed and over the ears, fears were allayed and positive expectations met in spades.
     
    6.Impressions.jpg     7.Impressions.jpg
     
    I used the EX1s a lot in the 10 days I had them. Some of the time was spent listening objectively and taking notes for my review, but most of the time I enjoyed them while on the go or just listening for pure pleasure.
     
    8.Microphone.jpg
     
    In addition to a lot of listening, for the first time I made use of some objective measurement for this review. Thanks to input from my Head-Fi pal @nmatheis, I recently purchased the Dayton iMM-6 Calibrated Measurement Microphone (pictured above, with tubing added so I get an air-tight sound chamber for accurate results), and used it with the iPhone AudioTools app (with calibration file installed) to create an FFT curve showing frequency response characteristics of the EX1 (see below). I won’t pretend the curves produced are 100% scientifically accurate, but from experimenting with a number of the IEMs I own, have found the sound signatures I hear match pretty well with the graphics produced. To avoid influencing my impressions, I performed measurements after several hours of listening.
     
    9.FFT.jpg
    And with that preamble out of the way, my impressions:
     
    1. Bass: Just the way I like it. Not boomy, but very good in quantity and quality. On tracks with a lot of bass, you can feel the sub-bass in the pit of your stomach. On non-bassy tracks, there is a warmth from the low end that adds to ambience nicely. Bass doesn’t bleed or overpower other frequencies, and has good speed and snap.
    2. Mids: Texture of mids is excellent, with lots of micro-detail and realism to brass and toms. Lower mids can be subdued when competing with bass and treble in busy passages, but on their own sound lovely.
    3. Highs: Upper end is bright, detailed and clear. High hats, cymbals, guitar and piano shimmer and sparkle beautifully. Extension (at least to my aging ears) is good. At no point in my listening did I feel highs were harsh or sibilant; perhaps this is due to tip choice, or maybe the retune of the Titan has made a difference in this area.
    4. Female vocals: To be brief, the EX1 is wonderful with female voices. It’s revealing, detailed and honest. With smooth singers (Norah Jones, Lana Del Rey, Elizabeth Shepherd, Sade and the like), voices translate beautifully, with air and space, while those who’re more raw and edgy (Björk, Beth Hart, Joss Stone) deliver wonderful texture.
    5. Male vocals: If there’s a shortcoming with the EX1, this is it for me. Vocal detail and texture are good, but the slight veiling of lower mids is to me very evident in tracks or passages with a lot going on. Characterful singers like Geddy Lee, Eddie Vedder and Mark Knopfler have great quality during quiet passages, but when their bands get going and there’s a lot of energy, the low end of their vocals drops out noticeably.
    6. Balance: As mentioned already, bass and treble both have excellent quality, and some veiling is evident in the lower mids (note the dip between 500 Hz and 1.5 kHz in the FFT graph). I would call the EX1 mildly v-shaped, but not significantly so as neither bass not treble are over-emphasized.
    7. Soundstage: Very good sense of space and atmospherics, and very definitely takes your music outside your head. Positioning is accurate, with width, height and depth. Side-to-side fades and stereo effects have impact.
     
    iTunes on MacBook Air via Calyx PaT DAC
    Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor – No Protection (Whole Album, ALAC)
    1. Wow! Crunching bass, deep and punchy. Visceral, gut-punching sub-bass. Lot of low frequency synth effects, clear with amazing textured reverb. Nice clarity in tracks with female vocals. Highs are clear, bright, detailed. Side-to-side fades have echo-y and strong stereo quality. BIG sense of soundstage, wide, tall, deep… holographic and atmospheric.
     
    Fiio X3ii via Fiio Q1
    Duke Jordan – Deacon Joe (from Flight to Jordan, ALAC)
    1. Natural, full bass. Drums mostly focused on high hat, brushed snare and a bit of cymbal, clear as a bell. Sax reedy and textured, trumpet sweet and clear, bright and squawky. Piano sparkles, natural, no damping or muffling, crisp attack with sustain neither too short nor long. Solos are clear and clean, group passages well balanced with good definition of individual players.
     
     
    Comparisons
     
    While I had the EX1, I preformed several comparisons with other IEMs of similar class and price. I could have compared against higher-priced hybrids (Dunu DN2000J, Fidue A73, Altone 2000, Trinity Delta), but felt it unfair to pit a budget single dynamic against competition like that. Instead, I chose to compare with several popular IEMs in similar technology (single driver) and price (sub $100) ranges.
     
    10.Comparison.jpg     11.Comparison.jpg
     
    1. RHA MA750: I really like the MA750, and it’s been one of my go-to IEMs for running about due to it’s rugged construction and cable and good sound quality. I was thus surprised at how much more I liked the EX1, which has more substantial bass, dynamic, revealing mids and highs, and warmer presentation overall. In comparison I found the MA750 rather flat and thunky.
    2. Trinity Hyperion: The Hyperion is tiny compared to the EX1, and cheaper by half, so perhaps this comparison is also a bit unfair. That said, it’s very listenable. Compared to the EX1, it lacks sub-bass, is more v-shaped (more recessed mids), and overall a bit dry and analytical. EX1 is fuller and deeper, with more warmth and airy, spacious soundstage.
    3. Havi B3 Pro 1: The Havi is a double-dynamic IEM known for excellence with vocals and stellar soundstage. It lacks a bit in the low end, and I prefer the sub- and mid-bass quality of the EX1. Havi is more mid-forward than EX1, so vocals (especially male) sounded more natural and balanced, while treble quality was similar. Soundstage with both was very good, with EX1 a touch smaller. Overall the bass presence makes the EX1 sound fuller and warmer, and if I have to chose between the two on sound alone, I give the edge to the EX1. The EX1 is significantly easier to drive (Havi requires a fair bit of power), so for portable use without an external amp, the EX1 wins, too.
     
    EX1 vs. RHA MA750 (Fiio X3ii, LG)
    Nitin Sawhney – I Ask You (feat. Joss Stone, from OneZero, ALAC)
    1. EX1: Bass substantial, nice thump, goes deep, realistic attack, not overpowering or bleedy. Stone’s vocal clear, detailed, textured. Good air, breathy and throaty. Balanced well with instruments. Piano clear and sparkling. Snare and high hat shimmer. Warm and spacious overall.
    2. MA750: Overall sound is drier, flatter. Less prevalent bass, particularly sub-bass. Overall sound a bit muffled. Vocal veiled. Piano sounds damped. Snare and high hat more thunky than shimmery. Sound is boxed in, lacks space and air. EX1 wins.
     
    EX1 vs. Trinity Hyperion (Fiio X3ii, LG)
    Roxy Music – Take A Chance With Me (from Avalon, ALAC)
    1. Hyperion: A little lacking in sub-bass, though mid-bass is satisfying. Good detail in highs (snare, high hat, guitar, synth). Ferry’s vocal nicely detailed but veiled and lacking the smooth, croony quality it usually has. Overall dry and a bit analytical, but very listenable.
    2. EX1: Bass fuller and deeper, more impactful. Ferry is croony again, with warmth and textured airiness. Highs shimmery and bright. Overall warmer, airier, more engaging and spacious. Like EX1 more.
     
    EX1 vs. Havi B3 Pro 1 (Fiio X5ii, LG for EX1 and HG for Havi)
    Rush – Red Barchetta (from Moving Pictures, ALAC)
    1. Havi: Overall sound is definitely bass-light. Mid-bass is there, but a bit thin and subdued, lacking power and impact. Lots of detail in the mids and highs (small toms, snare, cymbals, high hat, guitar). Geddy’s vocal is lively and natural, detailed yet full and without any harshness. Good sense of width and depth.
    2. EX1: Bass is much fuller and goes deeper. Overall sound is warmer. Mids recessed somewhat, body has gone somewhat from lower end of Geddy’s vocals. Highs similarly detailed and crisp. Soundstage good width and depth, but smaller than Havi. A close one, but overall prefer the EX1.
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    I’m glad I got to try the EX1 as it certainly lives up the Titan hype. For $89 I didn’t expect to find this quality of bass married to revealing highs and excellent soundstage. Overall sound is natural and warm, with very good levels of detail, and other than the slightly recessed lower mids, I find little to fault here.
     
    12.Conclusion.jpg
     
    Having spent some time with the EX1, I now regret not having gone in on the Titan 1 when it was first released. From what I’ve read, the EX1 is a retune of, but not that different from, the Titan. Lucky for me the EX1 is more reasonable price-wise, so this is a purchase I’ll definitely be making in the near future. Now if only it came with a detachable cable so I didn’t have to reverse left and right channels!
     
    Many thanks to @Joe Bloggs of Fiio for coordinating this review tour.
      x RELIC x likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. GN-0015
      I remember Hifiman made an adapter for RE-272 that can switch your left/right side so you can wear IEMs like this one over the ear. Do they sell those things separately or are they any alternatives?
      GN-0015, Oct 11, 2015
    3. hakushondaimao
      hakushondaimao, Oct 11, 2015
    4. FiiO Sunny
      Thanks for your kind support, great review , hakushondaimao.
      FiiO Sunny, Oct 12, 2015
  6. Tobias89
    Solid first IEM from Fiio
    Written by Tobias89
    Published Oct 9, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Rather balanced signature and is very detailed, which is rare at this price point. Good build quality. Cheap, excellent bang for buck.
    Cons - Poor isolation due to semi-open design. Springy cable that results in some microphonics. Some treble harshness. Identical to Titan1 (except cable)
    About Me
    I stumbled into the head-fi world when my itchy fingers picked up a Shure SE846 back in January’14. Since then, it has been a long journey, and I’m only just starting. Exploring the various IEMs and portable set-ups available, I’ve slowly learnt to appreciate good sounding gears at various price points, culminating in my decision to start writing reviews in order to contribute in my tiny way back to this community. I’m still looking to slowly develop a more consistent writing style as well. I’ll appreciate any feedback anyone has on any areas I could improve on!
     
    I have varying music taste, so I can listen to/ appreciate most genres of music too, from classicals to pop/rock and almost anything in between, and choose my listening genre at a particular time based on mood, although I’m still building up my music collection.
     
    Personally, I like my bass. It doesn’t have to be in huge, overwhelming quantities, but it has to be good, clean and deep base. I don’t like recessed mids, while I’m generally tolerant towards treble, and can appreciate both bright and rolled-off trebles.
     
    As with all reviews, this review is purely subjective, based on my own experience, gear and preference, so YMMV!
     
    About the EX1
    IMG_7209.jpg
     
    The Fiio EX1 is Fiio’s first IEM offering, and they have jointly partnered with DUNU to create the EX1 that is currently in my hands. It is based heavily on DUNU’s Titan 1, and it shows in their similarities, also featuring the same titanium dynamic driver that is found in the Titan 1.
     
    Build Quality
    IMG_7233.jpg  
    The EX1, as with the Titan 1, is built out a combination of CNC milled duralumin and stainless steel to minimize unwanted resonance. While it certainly felt heavy in my hands, once inserted into my ears, I didn’t feel any discomfort even after prolonged usage.
     
    The cable is made of Kevlar-reinforced OFC, and coated with TPE. While certainly well built, it is slightly springy and the TPE coating gives it a rubbery and slightly sticky feel which wasn’t to my liking. I also felt that there was a tad more microphonics with the EX1 vs the Titan 1. Sliding the chin slider up helps a lot, and attaching the included shirt clip all but removes any microphonics. I felt that that the Titan 1 had much less microphonic issue, but since I only used it while sitting down in quiet environment, it was not an issue for me.
     
    Comfort and Isolation
    The EX1 has pretty poor isolation, which I attribute mainly due to its semi-open design. Thus, I wouldn’t really recommend using it outdoors, such as in a train/subway or on a bus. While sound leakage isn’t as bad as a pair of open-backed headphones, it is substantial enough that my colleague asked if I was playing my music too loudly while in the lifts (oops). Thus, I only used the EX1 while sitting down in a quiet environment (as mentioned above). Despite that, its isolation isn't as bad as earpods or earbuds.

    As the EX1 is a shallow-insertion IEM, confort wasn’t an issue for me. I also did not find the EX1 to be uncomfortable for prolonged usage despite its size and weight. While its presence can be felt, it didn’t trouble me in anyway.
     
    Accessories
    IMG_7215.jpg
     

    Accessories provided are almost identical with the Titan 1. A very similar looking carrying case is provided, as is a similar selection of tips. 3 different types of tips were provided in 3 sizes (S/M/L). The one on the left that looks a bit like the Sony Hybrid has the smallest bore, with the middle red & grey tips with a medium sized bore, while the black one on the right has the widest bore of the lot. Later in this review, I will talk more about tip rolling.

    Also provided is a shirt clip, which I found to be especially useful to eliminate microphonics as mentioned above. However, missing from the EX1 is the ¼” adaptor, but this is a non-issue to me personally.
     
    Specifications
    EX1
    Type
    Dynamic(13mm)
    Frequency response
    20Hz-30kHz
    Sensitivity
    102dB/mW
    Impedance
    16Ω
    Plug size
    3.5mm Gold-plated
    Cord length
    1.2m
    Weight
    18g

     
     
    Sensitivity
    The EX1, as with most dynamic driver IEMs that I’ve tried, which admittedly isn’t a lot, is not a very sensitive IEM. While it varies from track to track, I found myself turning the volume higher than I normally do with my other IEMS, which are admittedly more sensitive BA IEMs. On my Samsung Note 3, I found myself hitting about 3-4 clicks below max volume most of the time.
     
    Sound
    Right, so now we're at the main point of this entire review, the SOUND!
     
    Source
    IMG_7266.jpg
     

    For the purpose of this review, my main source will be Foobar>Chord Hugo>EX1 (middle sized bore red & grey tips).
    [​IMG]
    Tracks Used
    Some of the tracks used for this review are:
    Storms Are On The Ocean
    Amber Rubarth
    Spanish Harlem
    Rebecca Pidgeon
    Angel
    Saybia
    Drum Impro
    Dali CD
    Ignorance (Acoustic)
    Paramore
    Just A Fool (ft. Blake Shelton)
    Christina Aguilera
    Cheek to Cheek
    Lady Gaga / Tony Bennett
    Royals
    Lorde
    See You Again (ft. Charlie Puth)
    Wiz Khalifa


     
    General Signature
    Very natural tonality. Good details, transparent and good imaging/soundstaging. Pretty balanced, with a slight tilt to U-shaped. Bright treble. Excellent bass. Above average midrange – clean and with good details and timbre for instruments, with just a hint of lushness. Vocals not the most engaging though.
     
     
    Bass
    Bass on the EX1 is slightly warm, but clean yet very slightly boosted. It is very quick, tight, and has good extension, with a good amount of sub-bass rumble
     
    While I mentioned that the bass is slightly boosted, it remained rather linear, with some added emphasis given to the mid bass. The bass still remains accurate however, and has excellent details, including all the way down in the sub-bass.
     
    Bass decay leans towards being slightly quick, but there is no bass bleed into the midrange, and I never felt overwhelmed at any point when using it despite it having a small bass bloom at times on some tracks.
     
    Mids
    The mids of the EX1 is slightly recessed, giving the EX1 its slight U-shaped signature. However, I never felt that it was recessed, just that in comparison to the bass and treble it is slightly further back. It is airy, clear and detailed, with a tiny hint of warmth in there, and never felt veiled.

    Instruments have a very realistic timbre and sounded great, and it really shines when listening to acoustic or classical pieces. However, while vocals are pretty engaging, it does exhibit some sibilance on vocals, and especially so for female vocalists.
     
    Treble
    The EX1 has a very detailed and well extended treble, which is bright and airy but also rather prominent. This prominence poses a slight issue, as the EX1’s treble also has a slightly metallic timbre, to the point that it did sound a bit harsh on some tracks, and cymbals do sound somewhat glaring. Treble decay though, is excellent, being neither too fast nor slow.
     
    Soundstage/imaging/presentation
    Likely as a result of its semi-open design, the EX1 has very good and coherent soundstage. While not the widest, it has good height, depth and width. Imaging is good, and instrument separation is excellent as well. I was easily able to pinpoint the locations of various instruments.
     
    Tip rolling
    Vyz-53egltest1.jpg
    Photo credit to @earfonia.
     
    The black tip with the smallest bore (sony hybrid look-a-like), had a noticeable bass boost, especially in the midrange. It had the warmest signature with the least amount of sibilance, but also resulted in a slightly more congested soundstage. My recommendations for modern genres such as Pop.

    The red & grey tip with a medium sized bore gave a slightly brighter sound, but a decidedly less warm signature. Bass is present but less emphasised compared to the black tips. The most sibilant of the 3 tips, but nothing unbearable.

    The black tip with the widest bore gave more bass than the grey tips without being as warm as the sony hybrid lookalike tips, but the treble was also more forgiving compared to the red cored tips. Also seeming provide the widest soundstage of the three.
     
    Comparison to Titan 1
    IMG_7307.jpg
    IMG_7328.jpg IMG_7335.jpg IMG_7341.jpg
     
    Again, I’d like to thank @earfonia for loaning me his Titan 1 for this comparison. However, before I start my comparison, I’d like to note that the EX1 is a very new unit, and I’m the first person on its tour, while the Titan 1 has been with earfonia for a period of time.

    The same type of tips were used for all direct (A/B) comparison, which are RHA’s silicon tips, as I neglected to borrow the original tips from him. However, I did use the medium bore, red cored tips to listen to both the EX1 and Titan 1 by changing the tips between prolonged usage.
     
    I felt that both the Titan 1 and EX1 sounded very similar, to the point of being almost identical. I did not notice any major difference in sound between the two, and only when I did direct A/B-ing did I notice some very minute difference.

    What tiny difference that I may have noticed may be attributed a variety of probable reason, such as the different cable, or difference in burn in length, or even just my perception that there is a difference (psychological). I am unable to say that any one particular is the main reason for the difference, as it felt too close to call for me (if there even is any difference at all).
     
    With that said and done, I’d just list differences that I noticed here for those who are still curious. Do not read too much into this though. I felt the EX 1 to be very slightly warmer, while the Titan 1 had a slightly more prominent and bright treble. I also felt that the EX 1 had a very slightly lusher mid-range. These differences were slight as mentioned, and not very noticeable without any direct comparisons. I will also not attempt to discern the potential reasons for these observations.
     
    Conclusion
    Being very similar to the Titan 1 from DUNU, but available at a cheaper price point, the Fiio EX1 is an excellent IEM, doubly so at its price point.
     
    Being almost identical to the Titan, it shares both the Titan’s strength and weakness. It has a detailed and pretty balanced (just slightly U shaped) signature, a touch of warmth at the low end. While not a bassy IEM, the bass coming out is of excellent quality and a decent quantity to boot. However, as with the Titan 1, it is also a rather unforgiving IEM, and poor quality recordings can be rather easily exposed.
     
    I’d like to say that I do love the EX1, and for what it offers at this price, it is nigh unbeatable. Its open design does make using it while on the go somewhat problematic, especially if ambient noise creeping into your little world of music is unwanted. Still, when in a quiet environment, the EX1 rewards you with a very detailed sound that still remains musical enough for enjoyment.
     
    While it is a rather versatile IEM, I feel that the EX1 shines with well recorded music due to its detail. It is excellent with natural acoustic recordings, classical music and even jazz, but I would advise against using it for modern POP recordings due to it being rather harsh with poorly recorded tracks, modern recordings have a tendency to be rather bright.
     
    If you don’t mind tip rolling, it is very enjoyable with most genres of music (ie. Changing to the smallest bore tips gave a less sibilant, warmer signature that sounds good with pop despite me just stating that the EX1 doesn’t really suit pop music!!!).
     
     
    Ending Notes/Suggestions
    I find the EX1 to be too similar to the Titan 1 for comfort. Perhaps Fiio should consider having an exclusive IEM in partnership with DUNU instead of a slightly varied version of one of DUNU’s offerings with a very similar signature.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. mayi
      This one is exactly the same as DUNU TITAN1, EXACTLY SAME
      mayi, Oct 11, 2015
    3. Cocki
      is this a re-branded product or a knock-off? either way i feel bad for dunu
      Cocki, Oct 12, 2015
    4. Tobias89
      Tobias89, Oct 18, 2015
  7. pixelsphotopro
    FIIO EX1 if you're looking for good value for your money
    Written by pixelsphotopro
    Published Oct 3, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Channel separation, confort, isolation, Excellent value for the money and much more....
    Cons - Packaging (Because I'm fussy)
    Hi all, I just want to say that it's my first review done on a product but I'm very proud to do it on a FIIO product. Review of the new FIIO EX1 In-ear Monitors. I will use the EX1 with the FIIO X1 alone. I don't consider myself a professional, I'm just a guy who love music and appreciate when the sound is nice to my ears.
     
    Day 1: Let's begin:
     
    Packaging: I was surprised to see the box the EX1 and parts were put in, I do have the FIIO X1, E07K and E12 and the boxes look more high end than the the EX1, the box did not give the protection that I was looking for but was more a regular box that you see all the time but not from FIIO. It's maybe just me who is too fussy about the packaging.
     Parts included: I was really pleased and surprised to see all that is included with the EX1. You do naturally have the EX1, a nice little black box to put the EX1 and all parts together, 9 pairs of ear tips, a clip, a warranty card but if you want the specifications you have to look on the back of the box that you just put in the garbage.
    Now the more serious task, let's listen to music, I will listen to different genres of music to see how versatile the EX1 are.
    Eric Clapton   MY FATHER EYES and others
    Jennifer Warnes  WAY DOWN DEEP
    Luciano Pavarotti  O SOLE MIO and others
    TIESTO and Techno
    As you see, I do listen to many genres of music.
    For the first day it will only play some random music to open them……  Goodnight for now
     
    Day 2: Tonight I feel to party so it will be Techno night, just to let you know that I’m 57 y/o and I love techno….. I was part-time DJ up to 45 y/o, that’s why I love it.
    I did listen to around 2 hours of mix techno style music and one thing I was surprised is the very high frequency are there big time. I did have to use the EQ on my X1 player to give a rest to my ears. The voices were nice to listen, at least to my old DJ abused ears. Bass were also very good, like I used to hear these mixes.
    So for tonight after I did adjust the high frequency it was a wonderful and nostalgic moments of my time behind the tables. It’s not the best music to make a review but still not everyone listen only to classical or quieter music.
     
     
    Day 3: Classical music night with Pavarotti
    This is going to be thought to do a fair review tonight as classical music with a Tenor like Pavarotti it’s sometimes very hard for in-ear monitors to endure and be able to make a nice representation of all the instruments and at the same time keep the voice as it supposed to be.
    What a wonderful evening I had to listen to the best of all time, at least to me: Luciano Pavarotti. His voice was sublime and the instruments were well defined, what I mean is everything was well balance between the instruments and his voice, I don’t know how to say it with frequency terms but to my ears it was WOW, even when he was pushing his voice to the higher level I did not have to lower the highs.
     Only thing that I do have when I listen to the same album with my Grado SR225I is the FIIO EX1 did not gave me the same stage effect, you know when you listen and you think the person is singing in front of you , that was not there for me. And this is one thing that I’m very fussy about. Everything else was so perfect that I did really appreciate my night with the master.
     
    Day 4: Repeat of Pavarotti
    Before listening to Eric Clapton, I did repeat my Pavarotti night and a good chance I did, I was probably tired the other night because this time I did have the scene presence I was looking for, This time he was like in front of me singing with his incredible voice and it was wonderful to have another night, tomorrow I will listen to Eric Clapton and Jennifer Warne’s
    Day 5: Eric Clapton and Jennifer Warne’s
     
    That was so wonderful, that copy of Eric Clapton Unplugged is sublime, it was really as though he was in front of me singing and the scratch of his pick and fingers on the guitar string simply WOW, don’t know how much more I could describe it.
     
    For Jennifer Warne’s the bass at the beginning of Way Down Deep was there and it’s hard to get it properly and I did get it with that song.
    Conclusion: I was pleasantly surprises of listening my different genres of music with the FIIO EX1. I’m not good to explain the frequency but personally I will put a 8/10 on this pair of In ears monitors for quality for your money and same thing 8/10 for the quality of the frequency range, only lose points when the very high were too much with my Techno music.
    Also I have to say that I did have the EX1 shipped to me for free just to be able to do my review without any pressure at all, although I have to ship it to the next person afterwards (also paid for). You also see that this is my first review ever done so my phrasing is not really professional but I do mean what I say and I hope your understand.
    Thank you
    Pixelsphotopro (Daniel Tremblay)
    1. Francki Conniff
      Good Job on the Review... I need to get me a pair as my old IE's are worn out and I only use my Sure SE215's when I cant use my NAD HP50's on the plane. But I want some IE's for home use and I will have to give these a try. Oh and hold on to that HP Touchpad hehe I still use my White 64gb as well :)
      Francki Conniff, Oct 3, 2015
    2. pixelsphotopro
      Thank you and yes I will keep my HP Touchpad as long as it will work, I simply love it and do what I need.
      pixelsphotopro, Oct 5, 2015
  8. Hawaiibadboy
    Well built evenly tuned. FiiO EX1
    Written by Hawaiibadboy
    Published Oct 2, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Build quality, lots of tips, fairly neutral tuning (good mids)
    Cons - Isolation, Bass is light
    [​IMG]
     
     
    I used 3 tracks only. I have O.C.D and can get lost in music. I prefer stuff I know like the back of my hand for comparing.
     
    I have listened to these three hundreds and hundreds of times.
     
    I used the Alpha & Delta AD01 (dual dynamic)  and the Sony xb90ex (single dynamic) for all three songs to compare with the FiiO EX1 (single dynamic)
     
    All 3 files are .flac 24/192 played from a Note 4 > Cozoy Aegis which played them back at 24/192 using U.A.P.P and no eq
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     Earth Wind & Fire - "That's the way of the World"

     
     
     

     
    [​IMG]
     
     
    Listened to IEM in this order:
     

    EX1

    1. Bass - Hard to hear... more than usual however I use elevated bass eq almost always so this could have been my ears adjusting.
    2. Mids - Sounded forward or "loud", vocals were good but horns and studio mixed layers were getting lost as the treble approached.
    3. Highs -  Singers voices in EW&F reach very high and the highs had a glare. The whole song sounded  ( ___/ ) shaped.
    4. Stage - Not wide and not narrow. didn't strike me as a item worth noting except it is
     
     
    I assume the freq graph for the Dunu Titan would apply so the response should not sound like so
     
     

    AD01

    1. Bass -Sub-bass and bass clearly elevated but pleasing
    2. Mids - nice but slightly muted or less forward than the EX1
    3. Highs -  Singers voices in EW&F reach very high and the highs had no glare but sounded very smooth, not too detailed which is bad for some. I like smooth highs
    4. Stage - More compact than the EX1
     
     
     

    XB90EX

    1. Bass - Less sub-bass than AD01 but more than EX1 which had none. Bass is present and feels true to master
    2. Mids -  sound is natural and has no clear recess and not forward.
    3. Highs -  Sound crisp and detailed.
    4. Stage - Very very large presentation. Unlike AD01 and EX1
     
     
    I would take the AD01>xb90ex>EX1
    The sub bass of the AD01 is just so damn nice. The XB is Xtra Bass but without an eq it is not so. The EX1 seems to lack bass.
    The graph of the Titan shows a semi flat region from 10-100Hz which is like a Planar. Very nice for an audiophile I imagine but too much info was simply not there.
     

    Paused review as some things were off in my mind.
    The EX1 had fantastic mids the night before but were in my face now?
    Decided to alter the order of listening but leave these impressions as they are real.
     
     
     
     
     

    Tupac Shakur (2pac)  - "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted"

     

     
    [​IMG]
     
     

    AD01

    1. Bass - sub bass and bass transition to mids very nice.
    2. Mids - slight recess or falling into the treble area but not scooped
    3. Highs -  very nice and smooth. Clearly a type of genre' the AD01 shines at
    4. Stage -  Again, the AD01 is close to being compact but only compared to BA having units
     
       

    EX1

    1. Bass - This track has a lot of bass beyond sub-bass which was again not there but familiar 80Hz hit was there.
    2. Mids -  sounded loud, forward but for this track that is good. What was shouty in the Earth Wind & Fire track is bouncy joy on this track little info gone (dip in freq?)
    3. Highs -  maybe it's the master but the highs sounded great and I know this track inside out and it was bass light but otherwise fine
    4. Stage - Not of note. Track not mixed in a way that sounds wide but holographic ghostly sounding women's voices were hard to catch (late mids?)
     
     
     

    XB90EX

    1. Bass - Less sub-bass than AD01 but more than EX1 which had none. Bass is present and feels true to master (same as previous track)
    2. Mids -  sound is natural and has no clear recess and not forward. (same as previous track)
    3. Highs -  Sound crisp and detailed. (same as previous track)
    4. Stage - Very very large presentation. Unlike AD01 and EX1 (same as previous track)
     
     
     
    would take the AD01>xb90ex>EX1.
     
     So a R&B and a Hip Hop track are better listens at least on a flat eq as the other 2 pair have an elevated bass tuning.
    The xb90ex should dominate this track but without an eq and an amp it does not. AD01 sounds best.
     
     

     

    Crosby Stills Nash & Young - "Helplessly Hoping"

     
     

     
    [​IMG]
     
     
     

    AD01

    1. Bass - mostly guitar notes in the bass area and generally not much info here, what is mastered seems fine and no roll off or anything lacking
    2. Mids - sound is nice but appears a bit recessed. I listened to this with the EX1 last night so I know what's going to happen here
    3. Highs -  voices are smooth like butter but rolling off
    4. Stage -  Again, the AD01 is close to being compact
     
     
     

    EX1

    1. Bass - Not much bass in this track and what is there sounds present and nothing seems lacking in lower guitar chords resonance
    2. Mids -  What was in my face on the Earth wind and Fire track is really nice on this track (first track is vinyl rip....hmmmmmm)
    3. Highs -  The vocals sound really awesome which I heard last night. knew this was coming. Very good recording or just a perfect match for these IEM or both
    4. Stage - Not of note. Track not mixed in a way that sounds outdoor stadium. there is a live version but quality is not great for testing
     
     

    XB90EX

    1. Bass - Bass is not prominent in track and sound is not better or worse than other two IEM
    2. Mids -  sound is natural and has no clear recess and not forward. (same as previous track (s))
    3. Highs -  sound is nice but not as pleasing as the EX1
    4. Stage -   This track does sound around your head with these IEM.
     
     
     
    would take the EX1>xb90ex>AD01
     
    Guitar and vocal-centric music seems to be the sweet spot for these IEM and I listen to  a lot of that. Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young and the like.
    The AD01 is an excellent set for rock but the clarity in the mids and detail of guitar plucks and pulls is superior on the EX1.
     
     
     
     

     If I were a Dummy :wink:

     
     
     
     
    The Fletcher Munson curve
     
    If you note the dip at 4Khz and look at the Golden Ear curve it is almost a compensation graph. The bump they are placing is almost exactly where in a relative manner the human ear has an issue.
     
     
     
     
     
    Assuming that is a pleasant line where the average human ear can hear the most musical information in the most appealing way (Golden Ear curve)...then it doesn't matter if it's your best line. It's mine for this exercise and the other 3 are relative to what I find appealing. I am the black line.
     
     
    The EX1 are rising into the audible and are not elevated in the sub bass.
    The AD01 clearly enter audible elevated with a boosted sub-bass .
    The xb90ex are also rising as they require power and eq.
    The EX1 have a mid section that is either ideal or it is slightly forward.
    The Highs of the EX1 have an airy feeling and seem as though the peak is slightly further up the register.
     
    **click to enlarge**​
     
     

    EQ me

     
    If I were to EQ the EX1...and I did. I'd raise 35-70Hz with 55Hz as the peak of that bass hill  of +5dB with a cut hard down to 250Hz at -2dB. I would also drop 2k a tad and raise 3-4khz and 8Khz in amounts depending on the genre'.
     
     

     

    4U

    The reviews on Head-Fi are results in search engine queries. The  # of folks who see these reviews will very often...especially later.. be from non members with little knowledge or care about warm,dry,hot,wet,stage,separation etc.
     
    Some love pictures others love analogies others love videos and on an on.
    My review is one view.  It's mine. I like bass and I like mids and I like highs. The sound is kind of airy and thin to me. Fit is not great but that's why god made lots of tips. There are lots of tips in this sets package. I think a set of foam Comply would be a really good idea.
     
     
     I cannot try 10 songs and keep track honestly in my mind. I can do that with 3.
    I chose 2 bass heavy genre' which is not this IEM's strong point but a world tour is underway and a bass lovers input is a slice of the pie
     
    If i were to tip roll and eq which is natural for me it would certainly sound better and it's larger driver and vent modding could eclipse the "fun" of the AD01 in all manner but that is a rabbit hole. Stock, no eq....not my thing but much easier to follow if your a reader/listener.
     
    I will edit and refine the presentation of the review but the general observations will stay. I d not believe in burn in but do believe in brain burn in and don't want that to be a factor.
     
    Many thanks to @Joe Bloggs for letting a bass lover and person in Japan take part.  FiiO should give you a raise. You help make them look very good.
     
     
     

    C.R.E.A.M.(y)          4 me  n  U

     
    Gotta  end this with a blast.
     
    If I have one regret it is that I did not see the enormity, the massive power of this review system sooner. It has been used well and abused well.
    Credibility is the real currency on Head-Fi.  Takes time to build and moments to throw away. Just like in real life. "Joe P. Public" cannot see who is who and even if they could it wouldn't matter if they didn't know exactly what they wanted ....(how many folks know exactly what they want??) ..and to be honest 1/2 the folks doing reviews have not found what they want.
    End game items mean end of game.  I'd be gone and so would they. 
     
    It's a journey marked by levels of financial investment. Not accurate markings but as good as any.  Are these (FiiO EX1) worth the amount of money at this point along the way? Sure, with a bonus of being backed by a company that will respond to any issue related to the item. I have had my ups and downs with em' but never about value for your money or inquiry and interaction. FiiO is peerless on Head-Fi in that way (10/01/2015)
     
     
    The big question is...would I rec these to you? I dunno you..so no.  You come back here saying my rec was off and you mess my cream. No way.
     
    Are these good IEM? Yes. Well made and tuned relatively neutral and backed by a solid company. So they are good.  3.5
      Brooko, ZMan2k2, gikigill and 9 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Hawaiibadboy
      @knorris908  it's a Hawaiianese mash -up 4 sure :)   FiiO e18 is my fave. Gets little love round here but it plugs n plays with the droid and the power is just enough to send SZ into thunder mode. They make good stuff. I am hoping for a basshead capable unit from them in the future.
      Hawaiibadboy, Oct 23, 2015
    3. Luckbad
      Good to see Fiio in IEMs. Hopefully they make a basshead earphone soon!
      Luckbad, Oct 23, 2015
    4. Diego Davila
      Why almost everyone takes the isolation factor as an important thing?. Wasn't this IEM designed to get better soundstage?, therefore would not be suitable for the street.
      Diego Davila, Mar 4, 2016
  9. WayneWoondirts
    FiiO's dive into the earphone market
    Written by WayneWoondirts
    Published Oct 1, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - wonderful comfort, great soundstage, neutral sound, small galaxy of tips
    Cons - no detachable cable, no isolation
    FiiO EX1 – the non portable portable headphone
     
    PA010440.jpg
     
    Disclaimer:
    I was part of FiiO's worldwide review tour for their first in ear monitor, the EX1. Which is based on the very popular Titan 1 by Dunu. For ten days I could test this IEM.
    Many thanks to Joe Bloggs for organizing yet another tour and for including me again, and also for extending the loaner period!
    Neither do I work for FiiO nor have I any affiliation with them.
     
     
    Introduction:
    As said above, the EX1 is based on Dunu's Titan 1. Dunu and FiiO partnered up for this monitor, and as far as I know the only difference of these two models is the cable. Which got developed by FiiO, they have some experience in making cables, as they have released a few different upgrade cables themselves (for example the RC-HD1 for Sennheisers HD 5X8 series).
    I want to state that I have never been an IEM person because of comfort issues.
     
    Specifications:
     
    Type
    Dynamic (13mm)
    Frequency Response
    20Hz - 30kHz
    Sensitivity
    102db/mW
    Impedance
    16 ohms
    Plug size
    3.5mm, gold plated
    cable length
    1.2m
    Weight
    18g

     
     
    Package and Accessories:
     
    P9250401.jpg P9250402.jpg
     
    Like any other product from FiiO the EX1 also comes in a black and red box. Since I didn't want to damage the box too much I tried to open it gently. So it took quite some time to get the IEMs out. If you don't have to send them to another reviewer I guess you can just rip it open and enjoy them a little faster.
     
    P9250404.jpg P9250405.jpg
     
    The EX1 comes with a transport box, a small galaxy of tips and a shirt clip alongside the authenticity card.
     
    P9250411.jpg
     
    I think it's great to see so many different tips, but I'd love to see some non silicone tips for a change. Why is everyone jumping on that train? They're easy to manage, right, but as far as isolation goes these are horrible. Well, different story.
     
    P9250412.jpg P9250413.jpg
     
    Build:
    The monitors are made of aircraft-grade duralumin, the same material is used in their upcoming X7 I think. They are a little heavy because of that, but nothing to be worried about. The housing has a few holes for an open design. The cable is soldered into the earphone, so no detachable cable. Also it is designed to be worn down only, but it is manageable to wear them upside down if you swap sides (left earphone in right ear and the other way around).
     
    P9250409.jpg PA010448.jpg
     
    P9250410.jpg P9250415.jpg
    P9250407.jpg
    As mentioned before the cable is the main difference between the Dunu and the FiiO. The homepage states that it is a kevlar-strenghened high purity multi strand OFC cable.
    At the end of the cable you'll find a standard right angled 3,5mm TRS plug before which is a silicone cable binder that says 'Dunu Patent'. I didn't know you can put a patent on those things, but the past has shown that basically everything can get patented (hello Apple). The cable binder works well and is a nice touch for storing the earphone, also it works well.
     
    Fit, comfort and isolation:
    With a total of nine tips it won't be hard to get a good fit, for me the pre-applied tips worked like a charm.
    In the introduction I said that I always had comfort issues when it came to in ears. Notice that I said had? Yes, that's right, these are absolutely comfortable and for the first time I was able to wear an in ear monitor for more than an hour. I wore the EX1 while traveling for 3 hours to work, and nothing! Of course I felt them, but they didn't get anything near uncomfortable. These changed my opinion on IEMs. Thank you FiiO/Dunu! It was about time :wink:
    Now for isolation. The title of this review is 'The non portable portable headphone', and here's why: their open design ensures a more natural flow of the soundwaves, but makes it leak sound in and out. So there's basically no real isolation. That makes the EX1 practically unusable for outside actions, at least for me.
     
    Sound:
    At first I used the EX1 with my loaner AK100II, and I was quite surprised as I found them to be missing body and detail, they sounded muffled and boring. So I thought what would they like? Maybe FiiO's earphone likes one of FiiO's DAPs. So I took out my X5ii and voilà. Now the EX1 delivered a very clean and full sound. Who would have thought that these are made for each other :wink:
     
    At first I made the mistake in taking them out for a walk. This is where the above mentioned open design hit me. Every noise made its way to my ears and it was not anything near where I expected them to be. When used inside you can really enjoy it's full potential though.
     
    The EX1 has a good slight V shaped soundstage, a full and vivid body. Its sound is very balanced and natural, with a hint in the bass region. The sound can not be described as warm or bright, it is more of a neutral kind.
    Bass has a good presence and is punchy, treble is crisp and clean while mids are airy and very detailed Male vocals are full and female artists (such as Björk) really shine with these little diamonds.
    They match nearly every genre, but for my taste were best accompanied by female singers.
    Separation could use some improvement in my opinion.
     
    Conclusion:
    The EX1 is a wonderful in ear monitor in sound and comfort. I can enjoy them for hours straight without them ever getting fatiguing or exhausting. But I don't see the point of having in ears that have an open design. The main purpose, at least for me, of an IEM is to be portable. Isolation has one of the bigger roles in this part, and the EX1 has none. When I was traveling by train to work a woman a few meters away from me asked me to turn down the volume even though it wasn't high at all.
     
    For 90$ these are a bargain if you can live with the open design.
     
    Final Words:
    Again a huge thanks to Joe Bloggs and FiiO for making this tour happen! It was my pleasure to review their first earphone.
    Off they go to Ireland.
     
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    1. Hawaiibadboy
      Nice review. I would also describe them as kind of neutral.
      Hawaiibadboy, Oct 1, 2015
    2. JK1
      IEMs with am open design would be great if they are open enough so that someone can hear their surroundings well enough to safely cross traffic intersections when the volume is kept low. It seems like they probably aren't open enough for that though. 
       
      I hope Fiio comes out with some less expensive IEMs, especially ones with a detachable cable that retail for under $50. Open earphones with earhooks would also be interesting. Something that sounds like the Sennheiser MX580 but has ear hooks to keep it in place would be great.
      JK1, Dec 17, 2015